Danforth's report to President Bush urges international efforts for compromise in Sudan

May 16, 2002
Former Missouri senator John Danforth has concluded, after two difficult trips to the Sudan as President George W. Bush's special envoy, that the United States should support international efforts to push both sides in the civil war towards a compromise.

The war between the mostly Christian and animist rebels in the south against the Islamic government centered at Khartoum in the north has claimed 2 million lives. Danforth said that the United States could not serve as an effective broker in ending the 18-year war but should lend support to countries that have been working for some kind of resolution.

'The principal conclusion of my mission is that the war is not winnable by either side in terms of achieving their present objectives,' he wrote in his report. He said that both sides 'have given sufficient indications that they want peace to warrant the energetic participation of the United States' in the peace process. That will require an enhanced American diplomatic presence, he argued.

Danforth also said that the Sudan should remain a high priority for receiving humanitarian aid from the U.S. and that, 'if the prospects for peace improve, we should consider removing restrictions on the form of aid we offer to the north.'

Sudan has more than a billion barrels of oil reserves, some estimates ranging as high as 5 billion barrels. Danforth said that 'the fair allocation of oil resources could be the key to working out broader political issues if it were possible to find a monetary formula for sharing oil revenues between the central government and the people in the south.' That would, in effect, offer a carrot for peace.

Bush appointed Danforth as his envoy last September and the senators visits in November and January exposed him to some staggering degrees of human suffering. His report said that it was clear that 'the government arms and directs marauding raiders who operate in the south, destroying villages and abducting women and children to serve as chattel servants.' He also noted that he 'met many Sudanese who were struggling to hold to their faith in the face of privation and attack.' An ordained Episcopal priest, Danforth attended an open-air Episcopal service near a church in the south that had been bombed.

A tentative agreement by the government not to intentionally attack civilians was shattered a few days later when a helicopter strafed a World Food Program feeding site, killing 17 people.

In an interview after the release of the report, Danforth said that he was pushing for initiatives that would 'get people thinking about what peace would look like--and how it could improve the lives of people.'

The 15-page report will be released after the White House has taken a closer look and agreed on an official response.

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